The 60th anniversary of the March on Washington For Jobs And Freedom featured a gathering of Black civil rights leaders and a diverse interfaith coalition of allies, brought together by The Drum Major Institute and the National Action Network.
On August 28, 1963, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. led a historic march to the Lincoln Memorial’s steps, orchestrated by Bayard Rustin. At this location, King delivered his iconic “I Have A Dream” speech. The event featured Ambassador Andrew Young as a prominent speaker.
Martin Luther King III told the Associated Press that this occasion was not a conventional commemoration, but rather a profound re-commitment, underlining the transformative power of collective action.
Several leaders of the commemorative march met with Attorney General Merrick Garland and Assistant Attorney General Kirsten Clarke on Aug. 25 to discuss issues including voting rights, policing, and redlining.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are scheduled to meet with organizers of the original March on Washington. According to a White House official, Dr. King’s three living children have also been invited to meet with Biden and Harris.
“I never thought that 23 years later, Martin and I, with Arndrea, would be doing a march and we’d have less (civil rights protections) than we had in 2000,” Rev. Al Sharpton told the Associated Press. “We’re fulfilling the assignment Mrs. King gave us. We are having to march, saying we can’t go backwards, and we’ve got to go forward.”
Sharpton was introduced at the 37th anniversary of the March on Washington in 2000 by Coretta Scott King, and according to Sharpton, Scott King gave him a charge to keep the legacy of the march alive. To that end, Sharpton plans to conduct a voting rights tour in states making it harder for Black people to vote. He is enlisting the help of prominent Black entrepreneurs to create a fund that will be used to finance responses to conservative attacks on diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“Freedom is never really won–you earn it and win it in every generation,” Bernice King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr. and CEO of the Martin Luther King Jr. Center For Nonviolent Social Change, told the AP. “Vigilance is the answer. We have to always remember, it’s difficult and dark right now, but a dawn is coming. Unfortunately, we’re living in a time when there’s a younger generation who believes that my daddy’s generation, and those of us who came after, didn’t get enough done. And I want them to understand, you are benefiting and this is the way you’re benefiting.”
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